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Sabine: The rise of an Assassin:
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Sabrina Bergin





Joined: 12 Apr 2008
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Location: Portsmouth UK
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PostPosted: Tue, 16. Feb 16, 23:52    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:

This revelation was more than I had been expecting, for a moment I considered it might be a ploy to dis-arm Kamishi. Yet…, if true as I believed it was, it would explain much of Kami’s behaviour towards me. She had suspected all along then, that we were related by ties of blood. Had my mother known of this I wondered? That seemed unlikely, by her own account Kami had said both she and her father had kept her hidden from Taddeo and that implied from Hiro Kanegawa as well. My lady would have to be informed of this, then there was the matter of Arlen. Kami had said she was sworn to her. How would she react on learning what had been done to her, at Hiro’s orders yes…? But at our hands, this could, no this would complicate matters. I knew now what the second roll of papers must contain, it would be Kami’s patent of nobility. Would Yuriko allow the house Nagoya to be re-instated? Her grandfather had been the one to exile them, she had it in her power to reverse that injustice. It was Kami who bought matters to a head by asking to see Arlen.
Kamishi must have been expecting this. “She will be in the garden at this hour Kami perhaps you should take Selma with you, she is not the person she was.” Kamishi warned.

“That much we all suspected mother, otherwise she would have contacted us long before now. We have the means to treat any harm done to her, physical or otherwise on her ship. This will not be the first time Arlen has suffered wounds others might assume fatal… She is resilient mother.”

“She is That” Kamishi agreed, “find her then, it may be that she will remember you.”

“Was that wise Kamishi? She may be your daughter, yet I fear she will come to see us as an enemy once they learn what happened to Arlen.”

“Perhaps not wise Ritsu, I have spoken to Arlen often and at length since she recovered, she holds no ill will towards Saya. She knows that was done at Hiro’s orders, yet her mind is on a dark path. We owe it to her to attempt to restore her to what she once was.” I doubted that was possible, I also suspected that Kamishi still felt the burden of guilt for allowing her to be tortured. It was then I warned Kamishi of the hidden sector and of the fleet Selma had shown me. “You believe that they could carry out their threat then?”

“What I believe is of little import Kamishi, the fact they believe they could attack us here with impunity is.”

“Then perhaps we are wise to attempt to forestall such an attack.” Kamishi activated a display, we watched as Selma and Kami approached Arlen in the garden. Even I could not fail to be moved at Selma’s recognition of Arlen. There was I thought a moment’s hesitation on Arlens part before she turned to face the women as they approached. I saw the sudden movement, seeing the sword stop before the strike could be completed. I doubt I could have managed such a feat, the two women faced each other. I turned my eyes from them sensing that this was a moment of intimacy more than one might expect to see between mere friends being reunited. “As I thought she does remember her after all.” Kamishi commented switching of the display for which I was grateful.

***********
Arlen:

This was my favourite part of the day here; the garden was quiet, most of the servants who were up at this hour were busy in the house. There had been some activity earlier. I had heard the movement as servants woken from their sleep, moved about the corridors, to attend guests who had arrived unexpectedly. Normally, I would have taken the time to find out why I had not been informed of these guests. I wasn’t fooling myself, much as I might wish to. Kamishi had run out of people she wanted me to kill, that made me a liability to her.

We should escape now whilst they are distracted.

“Why bother, it will just delay the inevitable?” That silenced her, the voice in my head that was as confused as I was by events. I had considered the possibility of getting away from here. I could do it, steal a flitter and head to Kyoto. From there I could steal a ship, I might even have a chance of getting to the Torus. The trouble was that would be where it would end, and badly at that if Jenner got his hands on me again. Kamishi would never let me leave… I knew to many of her secrets. I’d considered sticking a gun in my mouth and pulling the trigger, either that or provoking Saya or Ritsu enough in training to kill me. Problem with that, I was pretty sure my instinct for survival would take over, and I’d end up killing one of the few people I could count on, if not as a friend, then at least not an enemy. That was one of the reasons I was pissed off with Saya, she probably thought she had been doing me a favour, when she had bought me Ceri’s head back in that box. In a way I had to respect that, accept it for the apology it was that she couldn’t or wouldn’t express in words. I had wanted to get hold of Ceri and kill her after all. I had wanted to know what she had made me forget, before I did that. She had done a real number on me, selecting the memories she would let me keep, the stuff about the Ahriman project, the Tengu mission and my training and work for Argon intelligence. As well as those skills, I’d developed as Sabine the assassin.

Other than that… I was left with only the personal memories I’d had when I was seventeen years old, when I still went by the name of Arlen Poler. Given I was an assassin; I couldn’t be sure I would survive long, even if I did make it back to the commonwealth. Assassins tended to have few friends after all. There was always Lannar, if I could reach her perhaps…. No, I dismissed that idea… Every time I thought of Lannar, I would see that woman’s face again, the one that kept appearing in my nightmares. I was fairly sure she was, or had been important to Lannar. I kept getting glimpses… Flashbacks of them together. Chances were I had killed her, that might explain the overpowering sense of guilt that overwhelmed me, whenever I tried to put a name to her face.

Those nightmares had become more frequent of late, despite the sleeping pills I took that should have left me unable to think, let alone dream. That was why I was out here in the garden, watching the sun come up over the trees, trying to shake of the sense of dread they imposed. I understood Saya’s anger at me now for saving Ritsu, the idea of dying as she had seemed inviting. That was impossible of course, the nannites in my blood would staunch such a wound. It was whilst I considered this I felt a mild sense of alarm.

***********

It was time then… I heard them coming long before they could reach me. I didn’t recognise their footsteps. They were strangers here, I guessed Kamishi didn’t want to risk Ritsu or Saya’s lives after all. It would be interesting to see if I could let them kill me, or if the shadow in my thoughts would force me to attempt to defend myself. It was odd I hadn’t seen any one out here with rifles. Did Kamishi think the two she sent to kill me, were sufficient for the task. The insult prompted the rage, I was always careful to keep reined in. In a single move, I spun around to face the one nearest me, my katana scything through the air in a strike that would take her head. Confused for a second as I saw she was unarmed.

“No we must not!” Screamed the shadow in my mind, wresting control of my arms, from me. The sword strike coming to a sudden halt, wrenching several muscles in my arms, as the blade reached her neck, drawing blood.
The other woman stepped forward and carefully moved the blade aside. “Sabine! this is not the manner in which you should greet your Koishii. Will you not sheave your sword? The other woman snapped.

I couldn’t speak, my mind was in shock as I tried to understand why the woman from, my nightmares was here. I recognised her face…, yet still couldn’t put a name to her. More worrying, was that my body seemed to remember what I could not. Dropping my sword, I embraced her wondering at the sudden pain in my heart as she pulled me closer.

“Hey Hun, it’s okay I’ve got you,” she whispered, her own eyes bright with tears as she pulled my lips to her own. I couldn’t reply, I was acutely aware; my cheeks were burning though.

“Perhaps we should return to the house?” The woman who had caught my sword before it touched the ground suggested. “Clearly there is much to discuss Sabine.” She handed me my Katana, which I absently returned to its scabbard. The woman who had drawn such a response for me, leading me along by the hand, one she seemed determined not to relinquish, as we followed her diminutive companion back to the house.

**********
Restoration:

The injector lay on the table before, Kami, Selma’s companion waited for me to use it. I think she understood my reluctance to do so, better than anyone else here. “You say I prepared this before my memories were erased?”

“You did Sabine, even then you suspected that Ceri did not act alone and you knew that it was possible you could be manipulated. Prepared yourself, against the possibility of betrayal. Had you not fled we could have avoided much of what has happened to you since then. What have you got to lose Sabine, just now I saw how you would have welcomed death. Now we offer you a choice, to be who you once were, instead of this shadow of Sabine, that I see before me.”


“We’ve already tried this Kami,” I sighed remembering the pain recovering even this much of myself it had caused.

“I suspect it is because they used Terran nannites, that the process remained incomplete Sabine. These are different, you made them yourself. From what the Boron doctor has said, you prepared these, as you prepared yourself in case you were captured, and the Ahrtiman conditioning used against you.”

There it was then, I had a choice, of sorts. Kami was right to say that I felt voids in my mind. How was it she had described me? As a shadow of myself, I think that described it full well. Selma gave my hand a reassuring squeeze, not speaking, ready I think to accept any decision I might make. It was the warmth of her feelings towards me that made me accept the choice I must make. I placed the injector to my neck and activated it not knowing the agony I was about to endure.

**********

“What the frack?” Selma cried out, as Arlen almost threw herself to the floor, screaming in agony seconds, after she had injected herself.

“The good Doctor warned me of this Selma, it will pass in time, it would be wise I think if you stayed here with her. You may need this.”

Selma looked in horror at a second injector, filled with the drugs Arlen was supposed to use daily, to keep her psychosis under control. Arlen surely would not want to revert back to the woman she once had been, yet recognised Kami was right, the Arlen who had so nearly killed her, when they had met in the garden had seemed so much less than she had been. “I’ll stay with her” she said, in tones that made clear she would not be denied, lifting Arlen easily, placing her carefully on her bed. Kami acknowledged that with a nod, leaving the second injector on the table, before she left them alone.

**********

Kami was not surprised to be invited to join her mother for lunch after what had occurred, no doubt Kamishi had found a means to circumvent the security Sabine would have installed in her quarters, as a matter of course. She would no doubt be hoping to gain the secret of the nannites Sabine used. Her mother would see the enormous potential of such a weapon. She did herself, yet Sabine had ensured it was a weapon, she alone had access to. A fact she had demonstrated to her own satisfaction. Her mother would be annoyed at that, then she had always been ambitious, ready to do much, to ensure that she held the reins of power. That was the reason she had refused to accept the life her father had offered her in Aldrin. To be content for the life, her sister Akura had chosen. Why had she chosen to discard Hiro was the question that was uppermost in her thoughts as she made her way to her mother’s quarters, did she think lady Yukiro would be easier to control? Or as seemed more likely, she decided that it was Yuki who promised greater hope that her family would remain pre-eminent in the corridors of power here on Earth, and elsewhere. Those were questions she would have answered, before she decided whether she would stay here, or leave with Sabine.

**********

It was that warning that had provoked her mother’s anger, even Yuki and Ritsu could see how furious she was, at my refusal to consider any other alternatives.

“You know I cannot let her leave Kami? Jenner would take any opportunity to get his hands on her again, especially now she is likely to regain herself fully.”

“I doubt he will make any real attempt to disregard your will in this mother, he will no doubt be busy trying to duplicate the Ahriman project, using clones of Sabine. He will not want to alert you to his research, by provoking renewed interest in himself.”

“Cloning is a forbidden research.” Ritsu pointed out.

“Yet it goes on, both here and in the commonwealth Ritsuko, to deny that is to refuse to acknowledge that the sun will rise again tomorrow. That is another reason why you will have to let them leave, others will see their continued presence here as a threat to themselves. They would in time move against you, fearing perhaps that you had succeeded, where they cannot.”

“Your daughter is right Kamishi, you already know this. There is also the matter of the debt we owe Sabine; she has held to her oath towards my house. We have sorely abused her faith in us.” I had not sought such support from Yukiro, even my mother could see that in this Yuki and I were in agreement, I suspected Ritsu and Saya were as well, though they did not say so.

“She is too dangerous,” Kamishi announced which brought a smile to my lips before I refuted that argument.

“Dangerous indeed mother, Sabine is not the girl you thought you knew from her last stay here. At the moment, she is respecting her oath never to raise her hand against this house. Attempt to detain her…, you will make an implacable enemy, one even I would not care to face. I have taught her all that I know. I tell you plainly, her skill far surpasses my own. A wise woman, would seek to keep her as an ally, one to look on this house with some gratitude. It would also give you a means to know much of what occurs in the south. Something that no other Terran will have.” That convinced her, as nothing else would. To be able to retain Sabine as a weapon, was too tempting to be ignored. I had no need to add, that in keeping Sabine as such, I might also remain loyal to the Kanegawa, and through them her. That was the real reason for my mother’s anger of course. That I could so easily choose to ignore her wishes, as to what I might do next. That was something she should have considered before she left me, and later allowed Hiro Kanegawa, to unjustly bring shame to my father’s house. She knew that as well of course.

“The matter is decided then,” Yukiro announced with steel in her words. “I will escort Sabine to her ship, Ritsu and Saya will accompany me of course.”

That was a bold move, one I saw my mother respected. She would seek to refuse the Lady leave to do this but it resolved many issues. Besides having been told of the Kaiken by Ritsuko… I knew Yukiro wanted to see it for herself. She would want one of course, I wondered if she would appreciate the cost so easily, when Sabine presented her with the bill for her services in providing one. I excused myself then knowing that this was likely to be a protracted argument. It would be resolved as the Lady Yukiro wished. Even my mother could see that in this, she would be wise not to do other than Yukiro wished. Her power was based on her influence over the lady’s holdings after all.

**********

Jenner watched the display’s intently, as the Kanegawa party travelled through the corridors of the Torus to their waiting transport. He had personally installed the upgrades to the scanners they would pass through. If there was any indication that Poler had somehow managed to reintroduce the Ahrtiman project nannites into her system, he had teams on hand to secure all of them. He dare not act without some proof of course, which was why, after getting confirmation of the results of all the scans he was standing in the departure lounge ostensibly to see them off. Kamishi knew exactly why he was there of course, a fact she made clear with a glance of displeasure as he arrived and moved to speak to Arlen. He knew this woman better than anyone alive, if she was Sabine not Arlen Poler he would know it. He made his way to the Kanegawa docking zone.

**********

“How are you feeling Miss Poler? He asked as he offered his hand, the micro diagnostics pad would analyse her in seconds, it was the ultimate test. One she could not hope to circumvent. She could not fake the momentary look of confusion in her eyes as he asked her that, nor the tremor that shook her as she finally remembered him. It was starting then, the nannites he had used to force the imprint on her, were beginning to fail. This had happened to every one of the test subjects he had used so far. Once she left Terran space and no longer had access to them, the deterioration would accelerate.

“Mr Jenner, there was no need to come to seem us of.” Arlen replied unable to keep a suggestion of fear from her voice.

“I wanted to be sure that your passage was not impeded Miss Poler.” He assured her, stepping aside to let her pass. Ignoring the hostile looks from the others in her company.

Kami smiled as she sensed the man’s frustration, Sabine had warned them he might be here, though how she could have anticipated this was a mystery to her. Perhaps he would, as Sabine had suggested loose interest in her now. If not…, she would have to take other, more permanent measures to ensure that on Sabine’s behalf. That was in her interest as well of course. The fact that the Ahrtiman nannites could effectively be turned on and off at will, to avoid detection, was a secret only she and Sabine shared. Kami certainly didn’t want anyone to know that those same nannites coursed through her veins. As Sabine had told her long ago, it was an invaluable tool for an assassin to have. One not to be shared.

**********
Ritsu:

Only when they were aboard the Kaiken, did Selma inject Arlen again, bringing her fully back to herself. They joined Kami as she led Yuki, Saya, and myself on a tour of the ship. I had seen it already of course, still that did not stop me enjoying the look of yearning in my lady’s eyes as she some new wonder, or luxurious detail, was pointed out to her. She would definitely want one, of that I was certain. She even prevailed upon Arlen to take her on a cruise through the sector, escorted by a wing of fast interceptors, just in case of course. Kamishi did not trust Arlen that much, she would have less reason to do so had I told her that I knew this ship could easily have evaded this escort had Arlen chosen to do so. Perhaps that was why Selma did not allow the Kaiken, to exceed the listed specifications of the Hyperion on which it was based. I would have to ask her how they had managed to exceed them. No doubt, it was due to some secret technology, they kept at that hidden base of theirs.

**********

Yukiro raised the matter after dinner that evening, I had wondered that she had managed to show such restraint, in delaying to ask before then.

“If you want a Hyperion, then yes one could be acquired for you Yuki, it would not be cheap though. Arlen pulled out a pad and made a few calculations then handed her the pad with a rough estimate of the cost on it. I paled at the figure I saw when I glanced at the display.

“That is an extortionate amount to ask Arlen. I could build two such transports for this.” Yuki seethed.

“No, that is cost price Yuki, to take a Hyperion, you need to pay a team of skilled specialists, people who risk their lives in the capturing the ship. Their services do not come cheap, nor should they. Then there is the cost of recovering the ship to a secure shipyard, where it can be repaired and outfitted properly. This all adds to the final cost, that’s before you consider the reputation loss that would be incurred; I can assure, you that were anyone else to ask this of me Yuki, that figure would be double the one I’ve shown you.”

Yuki did not appear to be convinced of this, “Erine, I believe you are familiar with such matters, perhaps you could explain bluntly, that which Arlen has chosen not to.” I took the pad from Yuki and handed it to her.

Erine examined the number, “think triple this Yuki, you’d have to pay for two ships, a corvette with the right weapons, then if you want to do it clean you would need a missile boat with a turbo to keep it safe from the Hyperion. Add in twenty or thirty drones, the pay for the crews, and the boarding party. Collateral damage to the other ships, yeah this figure is way too low.”

“It is possible though?” Yuki persisted.

“It is.” Erine agreed handing back the pad, with her revised estimate. The trick is, to find a crew mad enough to do it for you.”

The fact that she was looking to Arlen when she said that, made it clear she would consider this only at her request. I was equally certain, that she had been one of those mad enough, to have acquired the Kaiken for Arlen, and that Arlen herself had fought alongside her in doing so. Yukiro saw that as well, for a moment I hoped she might reconsider this, it was one thing to order a member of one’s own security, to risk themselves. Quite another to ask a friend, particularly Arlen after all she had been through to do so. To my relief she let her hopes fade.

“You are right Erine, one should not ask others to take such risks, purely to satisfy one’s vanity. I would have paid the price, even the outrageous one you suggested for such a beautiful ship, we will speak no more of it.” After that announcement, the mood at the table returned to more pleasant matters, much to Selma’s obvious relief. My lady was being gracious in hiding her disappointment, I could see how much she had wanted a personal transport like this.

***********

It took me a while to find Yuki the next morning after breakfast, she had been somewhat subdued since the dinner the night before, part of that was due to facing the prospect, of not seeing Arlen again for some time. The other reason was having accepted that she could not have a Hyperion, not without asking Arlen and her friends to risk themselves in the acquisition of one, that was something I knew now she would never do. I found her in the observation lounge, cursing myself for not realising, that was the first place I should have looked to find her. Even though I moved quietly, she was aware of my presence when I entered the room with its magnificent views.

“It is a pity Ritsu, I would have loved to own such a magnificent ship as this,” she admitted finally.

A discreet cough caught both our attentions at that point. I was startled even I had failed to detect Erine’s approach. “All is not lost Lady Kanegawa, if you were willing to pay the price I suggested for a Hyperion, I might be able to lay my hands on one at short notice.”

“Has Arlen agreed to this Erine?” After all that had been said last night, I could not understand why this woman seemed to have changed her mind.

“Well there was no real need for her to do so Ritsuko, I did mention it of course, that and the fact that myself and certain other…, shall we say enterprising individuals, already have a Hyperion. It’s not fully outfitted of course, but it is in mint condition, fully armed and with only one… well two previous owners. As you can appreciate the difficulty in owning such a ship, let alone selling one, is problematic in the commonwealth. Here however…”

The woman didn’t have to say anymore, I stood back in amazement, as the two of them began haggling like market traders, over the price, the arrangements for delivery, and countless other details. It was a discussion that was to be ongoing for the next few days, as we changed course to dock at the power plant in the Venus sector. What did not help Yuki’s growing impatience, was that we were forced to plod along, at the same slow pace as Kamishi’s transport. That was probably just as well though as it allowed her to make the necessary arrangements to have Yukiro’s Hyperion granted access to the jump beacon there. It was a rare sight to see even one Hyperion, let alone for two to be docked alongside each other at the. From the observation lounge, we could see that the observation ports overlooking the docking arm we approached were filled with curious onlookers.

**********

Both Selma and Arlen joined us as we made our final approach, looks beautiful doesn’t she?”

“She does Selma,” Yukiro agreed. “But shouldn’t you be on the bridge?”

“Erine’s doing this one, besides there are a couple of things we have to do before Kamishi decides to join us aboard your ship, and we transfer ownership. There are also some things that Selma needs to teach you, like teaching Ritsu how to pilot the thing for one. We’ll be staying at dock here till that is done.”

“I cannot fly a corvette I protested.”

“Give me a week and you will,” Selma countered. “Besides who else would you trust at the controls with your lady aboard?” She had a point, I would entrust no one save Saya with that honour.

“There is also the matter of security to consider,” Arlen continued on a more serious note. “Despite having the specifications of the ship itself I imagine the ATF would love to tear your ship apart, that’s why Selma didn’t dock at the Torus, not with me on planet. So as soon as we’ve docked we’ll go aboard and get things set up for you. The rest of the details we can sort out later.”

That made sense to me so I saw no reason to protest, I knew Arlen was right in what she said, more importantly I knew she was also saying that in this Kamishi would not be able to intervene, or undo whatever Arlen had in mind. I trusted my aunt, not enough for me to risk Yuki’s safety though. So as soon as we had docked we made our way directly to her new ship. There in the stateroom Arlen revealed a console I had not suspected and activated it. This is a biometric scanner, a little bit more sophisticated than, most Yuki if you will place your hand next to mine I’ll transfer ownership. Ritsu you will have to place your hand next to Yuki’s.” Arlen did not explain that but I did as she instructed then felt a sharp burning sensation as the display under our hands brightened for a moment.

“I’m sorry Ritsu there was no way to warn you of this, as well as recognising Yukiro as the owner, the ship will not accept that being changed unless you agree to it.”

“Those cursed nannites again I assume.”

“They do have their uses Ritsu, think of it as another level of security for Yuki, Kamishi could order Masaki to take her out of dock till time ran out and nothing would happen, that’s why we have to get you trained as a pilot, then I expect Saya here, will want to be trained as well. I can’t imagine you will be available to fly her all the time.”

“Will I not have to be aboard to enable this?”

“No Yuki can order it, but you can override the ships manual controls, it’s a safety measure that is unique to my ships. It’s not something you want to let people know about though. There are various other security features, which Selma and Erine will go through with you over the next few days.”

“Speaking of which, take out that crystal Ritsu, and secure it in the concealed vault over there. There’s another one built into the unit on the bridge where it’s usually kept, but that one is a slave to this one. I should add that only you or Yuki can touch that now, that’s why I need you to do it.” Selma warned me. I did as she asked wondering at the multiple layers of security that Arlen insisted on, still she should know better than most what was necessary. I was already considering, some changes I would be making in my lady’s own security systems, on our return to Hokkaido. “Don’t look so worried Ritsu, I’ll give you a copies of my manuals, they will tell you all you need to know, on how to handle her.” I could only pray to my ancestors she was right, at the moment it seemed an impossible task.


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Sabrina Bergin





Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 2166 on topic
Location: Portsmouth UK
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PostPosted: Sun, 21. Feb 16, 18:54    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Keppel:

Gant flinched as he exited the gate, moving swiftly out of the out of the path of the Dragon corvette that his proximity alarms warned, had followed him to closely through the gate. “Stupid fracking Split” He cursed aloud, engaging his turbo to give him the distance he needed from the offending corvette. Shutting it down as soon as he was safely out of the corvettes path. He’d hoped to save that jump fuel, to avoid having to make the long boring flight to M148. Muttering oaths which questioned the bastard’s parentage, Gant altered his course and headed for the western gate.

**********

Normally in a situation like this, he would have turned around, and headed back to the outpost in Black Hole to refuel. This time, his orders when he’d been briefed on the Colossus in Circle of labour, made clear he wasn’t to stop anywhere on route. Whatever his cargo was, the brass didn’t want to risk anyone having a chance to examine it. “Shit if it’s so goddamn important, why the hell hadn’t they put it on a Centaur, and jump straight back to base with it? Instead of leaving me out here with my arse hanging out.” Cursing the stupidity of his supposed superiors, Gant pushed the throttles to max, taking the safeties of as he checked his gravidar again.

“Sorry May looks like we’re in for the long haul” he called to his shotgun over the intercom.

“Can’t be helped skip, I swear I could have touched that bastards bow when he came through on top of us like that. I got his ID though, I’m filing a complaint when we get back.” Gant smiled as May vented her anger at the Split Captain, she was still new to this, so hadn’t worked it out yet, such reports were routinely binned. They would only draw unwanted attention to the courier ships, allowing them to be tracked. Perhaps he’d explain that to her when they were having that drink later back at base. He was looking forward to that, she had made it clear, she wouldn’t mind if that ended up being more than just a drink. That was another reason why he was keen to get back, sooner rather than later.

**********

They were half way to the gate when May gave him a warning of the fast fighters, she'd spotted approaching. “Shit that girl has good eyes”, Gant thought, as he finally got sight of them on the edge of his gravidar display. He watched that display with one eye as he looked for local militia or custom ships that he might be able to call on for help, if those Pirates turned hostile. He got some information on them as they slowly overhauled him. They were all faster than he was though he couldn’t get a read on what they were packing just yet. “Okay May at the moment they’re flagged as friendlies, I’m going to change course here , and see if they follow us, keep your eyes on them back there.”

“Fracking A! skip, I’m tracking the mothers. Shall I go weapons hot?”

“Not just yet May, let’s keep it friendly for now. Button up your rig just in case though.” Gant sighed as he slid his own helmet into place and sealed it. He hated the feeling of being confined, he always felt when he had to do this. Still, if they had to eject.., it could make all the difference between life and death in the escape pods. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that though, he felt an icy pain in his gut as their pursuers matched his course change. “Go weapons hot and free May” he ordered. Accepting they were targeting them, as he ejected the drone that would sit here, and record whatever happened. He wasn’t ruling himself out of the game just yet, it was a procedure, that’s all. “Okay May make sure your well strapped in I’m going fully defensive now.”

“Copy that sir, weapons are hot” May confirmed, falling back into the military jargon her training in the corp, had instilled in her.

May squinted her eyes half closed, looking into the dark towards the approaching ships, their position highlighted by the glow of their drives. It wouldn’t help of course, it was just one of the things she did, when things started getting sticky. “Come on Gant show me all your fancy pilot shit,” she whispered, as Gant started his evasive manoeuvres, trying to prevent the bastards getting missile lock on them. Glancing up at the mark two eyeball the small mirror, fixed to the upper edge of her turret, that let her see what was going on ahead of them. May could see the gate was getting closer by the second. She didn’t let that distract her any longer than necessary, she switched her eyes back to her targets, “Shit incoming swarm missiles," she called out over the open com, lining up her P.R.G. on the nearest target.

“Copy that” Gant replied, hurling the Nova into yet another evolution that set the star field spinning around her. "Damn! He was good" she acknowledged, as Gant threaded the eye of the needle, twisting a path through the swarming ships, that were all over them now. Gunne knew how, but he was keeping the tango’s from getting a lock on them, whilst he kept moving closer to the gate. "Get us through that damned Gate Gant, and I’m going to give you a night you’ll never forget," she promised herself, as she opened up on the missiles as they came in range of her gun. After that she was totally in the zone. Moving from one target to the next, as they came ever closer. She felt the Nova take a few hits but the shields were still holding. Seems the pirates didn’t appreciate that, a couple of jaguars seemed to leap forward, and started targeting her. One of them stayed straight and level for too long, so she hosed it from bow to stern, grinning savagely as she tore through its shields, and blew it away. The rumbling through the hull when Gant opened up with the mains told her he was hitting the bastards as well, there were a few smoking fighters drifting in their wake that he'd taken out. May looked for the other jaguar, but couldn’t see it yet. She felt the inertial dampers screaming, as Gant pulled another crazy manoeuvre, that dropped them through the gate.


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PostPosted: Sun, 21. Feb 16, 21:12    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:

May took a moment to catch her breath as they dropped out the other side, her eyes staying focussed on her gun sights, expecting the bastards to follow them through any second. She almost managed to believe they had made it till she heard Gant say “Oh Shit!” as he manoeuvred violently. May had time to glance up at her mirror and caught a glimpse of that fracking Dragon as Gant maxed out the drives. That’s when she wet herself as she felt the hull taking major damage, her systems frying all around her as the ship shuddered, under the pounding it was getting. “Hey May,” Gant whispered hoarsely. “Going to have to take a rain check on that drink.” He was hit, she could hear it in his voice. She knew what he was thinking.

“Don’t you dare you bastard! We’re not….” She never got a chance to finish the sentence, as he launched her pod out into space, snapping the com’s connection.

May got banged up pretty badly, as her pod fired its thrusters to reach a pre-set `Safe’ distance. She could only watch, as the Dragon came to a halt a few metres from the Nova. Gant’s pod hadn’t launched she realised, seeing the cockpit module hadn’t blown clear. She knew what he would do now, she waited for the blast that would signal the fact he’d hit the self-destruct, she knew him well enough to know he’d make the effort to take out the Dragon if he could, or at least put some hurt on it. It never came, that meant he must be unconscious, but still alive, if he wasn’t, the autodestruct would have triggered itself by now. May could only look on in horror at what happened next as a Split exited the Dragon in a Marine battle rig, and jetted over to the cockpit of the Nova.

**********

Sabine smiled as she saw Gant was still strapped in his seat in the cockpit, as she approached the crippled Nova. A slight anomaly in the light from the gate caught her eye, there… an escape pod. So that was why he had chosen not to ram her Dragon, depriving her of the prize he'd assumed she was after, she had wondered at that. For a moment she considered letting Hur l’ed use it for target practice, but then decided she could use this witness to her advantage. She eased herself up to the shattered plexi glass of the canopy. Gant had been hit by the pulsed beam emitter barrage, that had crippled his ship and left him pinned in the cockpit. She reached her arm and head through the canopy raising her anti-glare visor so that he would know who gifted his death to him. As she slipped the terminal input shroud over the one it would hide on top of the data recorder housing, before moving back to see his reaction.

“You fracking bitch Sabine” Gant roared, his scream painfully loud in his suit as he recognised her. Gant could only watch as she gave him the Split death gesture, smiling at him as she raised the gun with that huge barrel to eye level, and fired.

**********

Sabine turned away from the Nova, satisfied that the last of the people connected to Arlen Poler, and able to recognise her as Sabine was dead. It had taken a lot of time and credit's to make sure the unit found out about the package she had designed, she had known they would use their best man, to ferry it back to M148 given the rumours she had spread as to its value. Sabine removed her satchel pack and fitted it to the hull of the Nova next to the cargo bay. She looked one last time towards the pod, then gave its occupant the gesture, that meant its life was beneath her taking for now, before making her way back to the Dragon. The patrol launched from the outpost would arrive in a few Mizura, and she intended to be long gone before they got here. Hopefully they would disarm the bomb she had left for them… If not she had other means she could use, to ensure her goals were met.

**********

May could only watch, as the Split bitch executed Gant, that’s what it had been. An execution. Whoever she was, she had wanted Gant to know who killed him. Typical murderous bloody Split. Then she had felt the icy touch of fear grip her heart, as the bitch had looked straight at her, and given her the Split version of the bird, before heading back to her ship. For a moment she was frozen in shock at what she had witnessed, then as the Dragon jumped out, May remembered the bitch had stuck something onto the hull of the Nova. Cutting through the pods thin membrane, she used her suit thrusters to make her way back to the Nova. Chances were she had just killed herself, this suit only had a limited supply of O2, and power. Well screw that, the Split bitch wasn’t going to make Gants last mission a failure. She figured she owed him that much. Keeping her respiration rate as low as she could, May cut open the satchel, exposing the bomb it concealed. “Yeah thank god for demolition 101” she muttered, as she reached for the small pack of tools strapped to her thigh. It wasn’t that difficult to disable it, no doubt the bitch hadn’t planned on anyone being around with the skill to do that. When she examined what they had used to pack around the main charge May knew why the bitch hadn’t just blown the Nova with her ships guns. If this had gone of it, would have destroyed her escape pod as well. Unclipping her tether, May moved forward to look into the cockpit. She nearly puked, when she saw Gants head had been blown away, by whatever ammo the bitch had used. A suit alarm a few mizura later, served only to confirm what she already suspected, her suit was dying on her. That meant the scrubbers would fail soon. Still it wasn’t supposed to be a bad way to go. Just like falling asleep, so they said. “Sorry Gant, I screwed up” she whispered, as her eyes closed.


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PostPosted: Sun, 21. Feb 16, 23:58    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

The more Sabine I see, the more of her I hate. Nice work.


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PostPosted: Mon, 22. Feb 16, 00:42    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Triaxx2:

Thank you Triaxx, to be honest it took me a while to get her where I wanted to go. More coming shortly.

Time wise is about four months before AP Kicks in, so there is a lot more coming, and very little time to do it. Now I've got the outline of events pretty much worked out.


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PostPosted: Mon, 22. Feb 16, 16:16    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:

Keppel’s thoughts were disturbed by the call from the medical division “What is it Ames?” He snapped.

“Sir you might want to come down here, the courier’s gunner… She’s come to and she’s screaming blue murder, demanding to speak to someone in charge.” Normally Keppel would have sent an aide down to debrief the woman, but if she knew something… Something that could shed light on what had happened, it was probably best if he handled this himself. Keppel sealed the ward satisfied that there was no way anyone could learn of what was said. He’d glanced through the medical reports as he’d made his way here. The girl was lucky to be alive. A mizura more taken in recovering her, and she would have been as dead as Gant.

**********

From what he’d been told, she had prevented the Nova, and its cargo from being destroyed. He frowned as she tried to sit up as he came into the I.C.U. room, the girl shouldn’t even be conscious, let alone trying to get up. "Stay put May, you don’t want to undo our surgeons hard work I hope.” Keppel said, smiling as he sat down in the chair near the head of the bed. “Now the Doctor tells me you have information you think I should hear. So spill it Marine.” That seemed to make her focus on what she needed to tell him.

“Thank you,” May said settling her head back down on the pillow, whilst trying to ignore the pounding going on in her head. Not to mention the constant pain she was getting from other parts of her body. “We were set up Sir, they knew who we were, and I reckon they must have known what we were carrying. Or at least whoever set them onto us did.”

“What makes you think that May?” Keppel asked gently, not allowing his alarm to show in his voice.

“Gant, he planned to jump from Nathans to the South gate in Enduring light. Given the cargo size it seemed the best plan, we didn’t have much space left for jump fuel… Anyway..., when we came through the North gate in Nathans, that Split Dragon, it crowded us Sir. Gant had to hit the booster just to get clear. I got a really good look at that thing sir, it was the same one we ran into as we exited the gate from Nathan's. That was no chance raid, they knew who we were right from the get go.” Keppel didn’t swear, though he wanted to. Mays words only confirmed his suspicion they had a traitor in their midst.

**********

He helped Brano as she reached for a water spout. “Then I saw that Split Bitch get out and execute Gant sir.” May continued her voice filled with anger.”

“Okay now let’s back it up a bit here May, can you explain how you knew it was a woman, and why you think Gant was a target? Not just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“It was what she did sir, just before she shot him, she made a Split gesture one that means I steal your last breath… or something like that, then she gave me the finger sir, basically she could have killed me, but couldn’t be arsed to make the effort. I think she liked the idea, that I’d get to watch the ship blow, and that it would take me out with it.” I had a Split instructor in boot camp, he taught me some of their signs” she added explaining how she knew what they meant.

“Okay I get all that, but what makes you so sure it was a woman?”

Lower centre of gravity sir, it affects the way a girl carries herself even in zero G, that was definitely a woman in that rig. There’s something I remembered about those gestures she used as well, my instructor he hailed from Zyarths, he used to make them in exactly the same way she did.”

“Sort of like a local accent " Keppel muttered aloud.

“That’s it sir, every family has their own private signs, I’m pretty sure that bitch! Came from way out east.” Keppel could see the connections now; the package had originated from that area, though there was no need for her to know that.

“Well that gives us some where to look... for the moment, I want you to rest up until you get clearance to go back on duty.” Seeing she was about to protest his decision he raised his hand to forestall her speaking. “I know what you’re going to say May, I promise you... We will be putting a team together to track down Gant’s Killer. I want you to be a part of that team, if you want in that is?”

“I definitely want in Sir; I want to find that bitch! I owe her a finger.” Keppel left her to recover, then contacted security to make sure she was protected twenty-four seven. He doubted the Split woman could try anything here, but it didn’t hurt to cover all the angles. Add to that May Brano was really motivated, and capable, she would be an asset to the team he was assembling.


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PostPosted: Tue, 23. Feb 16, 07:23    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Rhonkar:

Selma was suspicious of the invitation from family Rhonkar, not least because Arlen was so keen to go. She was keenly aware that receiving such an invite was not so much a request, as a demand to attend. Helga had spent hours trying to knock that into her head, the banquet, to commemorate one of his minor nephew’s birthday meant the Split might ease up on the trade restrictions, and allow her traders more access in Split Space. That's why she would be going along with Tighe, as part of the trade negotiation team. Selma sighed as she sealed her ship suit, suspecting that Sabine was involved in this. Even though Arlen maintained she only took the occasional Job for the guild now, Selma was sure this was one of them. She shouldn’t complain really, after what had happened on Earth, she should just be grateful they were together again. Arlen hadn’t had an episode since then either, in fact these days, she seemed to be as normal as anyone. As demonstrated by the fact, her eyes didn’t change anymore, well not that she had seen. She was spending a lot of time at Sanctuary, which at least was keeping her busy. Idle hands and all that. Selma checked her appearance one last time, before heading for the departure lounge, aware of the insistent buzzing of her pager, that told her everyone was waiting on her now.

**********

Selma was still bitching at me; it had started as soon as I started getting dressed to escort her of the Kaiken. True, it was me that Rhonkar’s agent wanted to talk to, but the invite had Selma’s name on it. I was listed as her bridle, well at least he had the good taste not to name me as her consort. That would have had every Split for kilo’s around, looking to score points of me. At least I didn’t have Helga and Tighe backing her up, they had already left with the trade delegation. “Enough! Selma,” I snapped, regretting it instantly. “Look… if I don’t dress as they expect, Rhonkar will dismiss our delegation, it’s all about saving face, showing respect here. A lady, and in this case that means you, cannot go about unescorted. I swear I won’t be drawing my sword it’s only for effect, our safety is guaranteed by Rhonkar himself, so stop worrying.” She wouldn’t of course, but at least she stopped moaning about me carrying my Katana. She finally joined me and we made our way into the stations arrivals lounge. The big Split waiting for us, along with his two companions I assumed were here to escort us down to the planet. The big guy took one look at my Katana, then looked down at me and sneered. “Your sword seems a little short Argon, are you unable to wield a proper blade?” Oh great, just what I needed a Split with a chip on his shoulder. Why was it they got cranky when they saw any other species carrying a sword? Or was this a test of some sort, it was possible?

**********

“It is said” I began ignoring him whilst pretending to examine my nails, “that a man who chooses to carry an over large blade, is compensating for a lack elsewhere. Being a mere woman…” I looked up at him then. “I have always wondered if that is true…, Is it?” I asked him sweetly, noting the amusement this provoked in the other two Split.

“Do you challenge me Halfling?”

“You know full well that by tradition, as an honoured guest, I may not draw blood here, save in defence of my Lady. That is fortunate, otherwise your head would already be at your feet,” I snarled back.

Kill him, rage screamed in my head.

“Hah you have courage little Argon,” he grinned smiling at me. I am “Cr’a’ts I would be honoured to escort both you, and your lady to my lord’s house.” He gave me a Serva Kai then, not a hostile one which I returned, assuming if this was a test of some sort… I had passed it. Why the hell did the Split have to make things so fracking complicated?

***********

I had to admit the view I had of the palace as we circled it to land at the field set a short distance form it impressed me. Despite the Splits tendency to prefer solid fortress like structures this one looked as if it had been built to display the beauty in the crafting of it. Still, this was a world where the Split chose to meet other races, perhaps they wanted to make it appear this way. I had no doubt, there would be massively overpowered defences concealed somewhere within its walls. Cr’a’ts was as good as his word which was irritating he escorted us directly to the suite of rooms assigned to us. To be honest I had been hoping to have a bit of a look around before we got here. Our luggage had already arrived so Selma started unpacking. I placed my Katana on a rack by the door then lifted out the case of wine, I had insisted we bring along, checking to make sure that the stasis field hadn’t been interfered with. Once I was happy the wine wasn’t clouded by its travels, I placed the case on a table set to one side in the lounge and deactivated it.

**********

“Fancy a glass of the fifty-four?” I called out to Selma who had disappeared into the bedroom.

“Only if it’s a white and chilled Arlen” she called back. “I am a bit parched.” I poured us both a glass and had just settled down on the couch when the door alert sounded. I strode across the room and opened it surprised to see a young Split woman, waiting to be admitted.

“I am sorry for being late in attending, I am Cael, I am here to assist you” she assured me, as she walked past me into the room. Her eyes fastening on the bottle and glasses on the table. “Are Split wines not suitable?” she asked, pointing to the selection that had been provided for us in a cabinet near the door to the bedroom.

“I find them a little heady this early in the day,” She smiled at that no doubt knowing the effects some Split wines had on Argon visitors. “these wines are products of my own house,” I answered truthfully, “here try a glass with me.” I could tell she was a bit reluctant, but once she took a sip her expression softened.

“It is pleasant” she agreed, “you say your house produces this wine.”

“It does, here I will give you my agents card, if it is to your taste you will be able to purchase more of it. Have my man send you a catalogue and demand a case of samples before purchasing any though, not all varieties might be to your taste.” I sat back down on the couch indicating Cael should do the same, I had no doubt she was supposed to spy on us whilst we were here, but she seemed pleasant enough and there was not need to be rude. I had already made note of a couple of concealed lenses in the room and I expect they had audio capability as well. They were easy enough to deal with, Cael might be more difficult to evade, if she was any good. Selma joined us a mizura later, and we spent a pleasant afternoon making idle conversation with the girl.

**********

Cr’ a’t’s grew bored watching the Argon women, despite the smaller ones flare of anger towards him on the station earlier, she seemed much like any other Argon he had met. Still there was something about her that stirred his interest. His informant had said there was an assassin in this delegation. He had ruled out the others, who were also being watched. Perhaps it was the taller Argon, she carried herself with the grace one would expect, of one used to combat. This he recognised in her, the halfling might be there merely to distract him, if so she was succeeding he admitted to himself. Perhaps Cael might be able to give him more information, when she reported back to him she had a keen eye for minutiae. For the moment he would have them watched carefully. Few knew Rhonkar himself planned to attend this banquet, he would take no chances.

**********

Sabine slipped on the robe she had left on the floor by their bed, ostensibly she was only going to use the bathroom, which is what the cameras would see. as she left a second override device in the lounge. Once she was ready she activated the loop recordings to override the live feed playing back a loop of her returning to bed then going to sleep. Selma would truly be asleep for another hour; the drug she had slipped into her last glass of wine ensured that. As soon as she was certain she would not be visible to the monitors, Sabine slipped out of bed dressing herself in her stealth gear, before taking her Katana, and slipping out of the window she’d left open earlier. She evaded the few foot patrols easily enough, before slipping out of the grounds, and up onto the roofs of the town buildings to meet her contact.

**********

It was a maxim Kami had taught her that people rarely looked up. That was true, which was also fortunate this time. When she arrived above the alley where the contact was waiting for her, she caught him speaking to a pair hidden in the shadows. It was a trap then, one she intended spring on her contact, after she dealt with the welcoming committee of course. Sabine waited till her contact, moved towards the back door of the restaurant where he waited to meet her. She wasn’t due for another ten mizura, so he had time to settle himself. Sabine slipped down the wall at the end of the ally he had left moment ago. The shuriken flashed through the night catching each of the concealed men in their throats. She managed to catch one before he fell but the second Slid of her outstretched leg and landed on the ground, making a slight noise. “Keep quiet you idiots, if you alert her to your presence I will kill you myself” her contact’s voice hissed from the ear piece, of the dead man she’d caught. Sabine retrieved her shuriken, slipping them back into the pocket in her arm band, before taking to the roofs once more.

**********

She looked over the edge of the flat roof down onto the head of her contact who was whispering into his microphone again. “No you fool’s, I want you to wait till she is back, then kill them both. Leave the knife there, after you have used it on both of them.” The man concealed his com piece muttering to himself about being forced to work with idiots. Sabine anchored the pulley for the shiga-wire then lowered the almost invisible loop over the man’s head, before snatching sharply on the covered sleeve of the razor sharp wire. It didn’t quite take his head off, Sabine noted, smiling as she dropped down then carefully stepped over the blood pooling at his feet. She searched him carefully, pocketing items she would study later. She left him hanging there, estimating the rope would finish taking his head in a mizura or two at most, then swiftly retraced her steps back to the Palace, hoping she would get there in time.

*********

Sabine had barely got back into bed after applying the stimulant to Selma’s neck, when she heard the outer door to the suite open. She switched of the loop player and got out of bed loosening her Katana from its scabbard, as she waited for them to enter the bedroom. “What’s going on?” Selma whispered. Instinctively sensing Arlens concern.

“Intruders, my Jatra is under the pillow” Selma needed no further instruction, she eased herself out of bed, stepping into the darkest part of the room, just beyond the doorway. Sabine paid careful attention as she heard them approach the door, signalling to Selma she heard two approaching, and that there were three others. Sabine relaxed, calming herself as the two stepped into the room moving slowly so as not to make any noise. Sabine ran forward taking the first one’s head, then spearing the second through the throat before diving over him as he fell. leaping to her feet, as the one by the door turned on the room lights, his eyes wide in shock as he saw her. The two nearest attacked her at once, forcing her to leap out of their way slamming her Katana in a backwards thrust into the side of the man she had barely evaded. A glance back saw Selma had the other by the throat and that she would kill him in a sezura at most. The one by the door recognising failure tried to leave, Sabine launched her Katana, it went through his shoulder pinning him to the wall as armed guards rushed into the room.

**********

“Perhaps you might put on some robes Ladies?” Cr’ a’t’s suggested as his eyes surveyed the room. Smiling as he saw the man pinned to the wall. Sabine saw the look he gave Selma when he recognised her Jatra in her hand. Cr’ a’t’s smile faded as the women entered the bathroom, “leave that one” he ordered, indicating the man pinned fast to the wall by the smaller warrior’s sword, as his men started removing the bodies. She had split training that was certain, she might be offended if another touched her blade. Not Selma the taller one though, that was interesting though he should have suspected as much. Now at least he recognised why this Arlen had been so assertive earlier. It was not uncommon amongst female warriors, even those of his own race. A pity really... Selma, the taller of the two was not unattractive.


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PostPosted: Sat, 27. Feb 16, 05:04    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:

Arlen was first to emerge from the bathroom after taking a quick shower, to wash of the blood that had covered her from tip to toe moments earlier. The first thing she did was walk across the room and retrieve her sword, ignoring the cry of pain from the man it had held pinned, as he dropped, in a senseless heap to the floor. She paused only to wipe the blood of the blade, with a towel she had bought with her from the bathroom, whilst the body of the man was dragged from the room. “Care for a drink,” she asked after racking her Katana carefully, then taking a bottle of fire wine from the cooler.

There were two things Cra’ ’t’s noted here, both of which irritated him for reason’s he was uncertain of. The first being that she gave him that same contemptuous smile she had demonstrated on station when she had questioned his manhood, he was surprised she did not flutter his eyelids at him as she had done then, like some addle minded young curb. The second being she offered him only the Split wine his lord had provided. Did she think him unworthy of the wine, she had so freely shared with Cael? He let none of that show in his manner when answering her.

“I would be pleased to share a glass with you Arlen” He managed politely.
She returned his civility by baring her teeth at him whilst placing a full glass in his hand, taking a deep taste of her own before she sat herself facing him.

This was deliberate he knew, as he tasted his own wine wincing at the taste. Did she know his lord insulted her with this, he wondered? Suspecting she did, she had already spoken of her house’s own wine making, and Cael had confirmed it was more than palatable, Arlen would have a taste for quality then. Perhaps this was why she was seeking to provoke, him or at least unsettle him. Even the way she had moved those few steps across the room, with a hunter’s smooth stride was deliberate. “To disarm an enemy, one must first distract him. came his weapons instructor voice unbidden to his thoughts. Forcing himself to discard his earlier appraisal of her he forced himself to relax, seeking some clue as to what she sought to conceal here. “I must apologise for the attack upon your lady Arlen, my men have been remiss in their duties… they will be punished for this.”

“There is no need, Cra’ they arrived only a few sezura after our assailants, clearly the fault lies with whoever allowed them access to the grounds. Their lack of skill suggests; they could not have managed that feat by themselves.”

**********

Cra’ was distracted from pursuing that reply with a further question regarding her knowledge of such things, when Selma walked to stand close to Arlen, having poured herself a large glass of wine for herself, prompting him to rise to acknowledge her presence. Selma drank deeply, showing that events had shaken her at least. Which led him to conclude she was not comfortable with hand to hand combat. Given no answer to his courtesy which under the circumstances was forgivable, Cra’ resumed his seat, his thoughts racing as he modified his preconceptions of both women.

“I have given orders for other rooms to be made ready for you My lady, once more I apologise for the insult done to you.” Whatever reply she might have made, she held back at the subtle sign Arlen gave, one he did not allow her to suspect he had observed.

“The fools must have chosen our room by mistake Cra’ ’t’s, I hardly think I, or my people could have done anything to warrant such an attack, I would be grateful if you could inform us if that prisoner provides information to the contrary though. Now, I for one am going to get into something decent, I assume you have people standing by who want to get in here.” Selma concluded, finishing her wine in one swift swallow, the nod she gave to Arlen, suggested she do the same. He stood to watch them as they went towards the bedroom, once more his interest was piqued.

“One thing Arlen,” he asked before she had left the room, you seemed to be ready to deal with the intruders… “How is that?”

She answered him by moving to a chest by the bathroom, picking up a small disc and displaying it. “Motion sensor Cra’ simple but effective.”

“Just so” he agreed. “I am fortunate you are so diligent in seeing to your lady’s safety.” Cael entered the room then, glancing to him before moving to follow Selma into the other room. Whilst thinking herself unobserved he saw the flash of rage in Arlen’s eyes, as they followed Cael across the room, it seemed Cael’s presumption in seeking to follow Selma as she entered the bedroom before her, worthy of her anger. Interesting she is overly protective of Selma, and resents Cael’s unattended proximity to her. Is she that uncertain of their bond? he asked himself, accepting that thought did not displease him. He walked to the sword rack to examine the blade she had placed there; the one she had used with such devastating effect upon her enemies.

**********

He had a keen eye, and rare knowledge of the making of such weapons, this was no cast blade. It was forged from steel folded countless times to give it greater strength. The handle was exquisitely carved from a single piece of bone, its patina suggesting an age of decades rather than jazura. He knew he would kill to possess such a weapon. Perhaps that, was what had truly angered her when they had first met, his insult to her blade not herself?

“Does my short sword interest you Cra’" she asked quietly, having come up on him in utter silence, catching him unaware of her approach, revealing his fascination with it.

“It does Arlen, I am no master, yet this blade speaks to the skill of the one who fashioned it… It is a thing of beauty.” He admitted turning to face her, noting the empty scabbard she held in one hand. This too, he saw now that he was closer to it, was also a finely crafted work of art.

She reached past him picking up the blade, before flipping it with ease presenting it hilt first to him. “You will no doubt find it a little light; this Katana was made for a woman,” she warned, no doubt suspecting he might try some sweeps with the blade. He would not… that was for children at play, and this was no toy in the hands of one trained in its use he conceded, as he studied it closely.

************

Named after that deadly corvette, that seemed apt he thought as he felt the balance of the blade, then realised he had the two face about. Even so they shared many of the same qualities. “It is beautiful he admitted,” openly admiring the workmanship that had gone into the blade. He studied it for a moment longer, before wiping the blade with a silk he kept for his own use, presenting it back to her in the manner she had demonstrated to him. There were many questions he wanted to ask about this, Katana of hers, not least of which was how she came by it. Selma’s emergence from the bedroom with Cael following close behind prevented this. Instead he turned, and led them to their new rooms, certain that once again she had managed to distract his attention. He let none of this show as he bade them good night, as they passed the two guards, that stood at the door to their rooms. This woman was now truly beginning to irritate him, more so because he knew, she did it deliberately. The summons from his pager he might have chosen to ignore, till he saw who it was that demanded his presence.


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PostPosted: Sat, 27. Feb 16, 16:49    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:

Cra’ gave no sign of the anger the woman provoked in him, when he saw she had claimed his chair, and presumably his office for her own. She finished studying whatever had caught her attention on his desk terminals, before she turned her eyes to him. “For a man whom others have seen fit to praise for his ability, you seem to have displayed a stunning level of incompetence tonight Commander. You have five assassins roaming the halls of your lord’s house at their leisure. Four of whom are now dead, and the fifth a prisoner, thanks only to the intervention of a pair of Argon women. Your patrols are so badly arranged; they might as well not be there. As for you… After apprehending the prisoner, the Argon woman gifted you, instead of taking charge you acted like a love stuck youth, pandering to your guest’s comfort. A task easily delegated... before even considering returning here to restore security to your own house…. You seem angry Commander, perhaps you think I am being unreasonable in my description of events? If so, please explain matters from you’re your point of view, so that I might understand how this disaster, of unmitigated proportions has been allowed to occur.

**********

He could not of course, every word she had said, cut all the more deeply because they were true. He knew now, how this had happened. It made little difference though, he had failed in his first duty to protect his house. Nothing he said could change that, any words of his to try and explain the chain of events that led to this moment, would sound like futile excuses for his failures.

“You seem at a loss for words Commander, no matter. I will ask questions, and you will answer them, is that understood?”

“Yes Captain.”

“Good, so tell me Commander. Where are the rest of your security staff? I count only eight as being on the premises, where are the other twelve that should be on duty with you.” This was the root of his failure, he should have protested more strongly to his lord, the sequestration of his staff for such a menial duty.

“Four are keeping the other members of the Argon delegation under surveillance, lord Br’ kilt requested the others accompany him to his summer house.”

“Requested or ordered Commander? I want precise answers from you. I also want to know where the regular house guards are. They seem conspicuous by their absence. I walked in here almost unchallenged.”

“My lord ordered my men to accompany him Captain, the house guards should all be at their posts. They were before I began observation of the Argon women quartered here.” Cra’ felt physically sick as he realised how Vo ‘l’ nt must view events here. He had been set up, no doubt he would have been the scapegoat for the death of the Argon women and the withdrawal of their trade delegation.

“It seems there is much you were unaware of Commander, but we will get back to that in a moment. Why were you keeping the Argon women here, under such close observation?"

"An informant, suggested one of them might be an assassin, I met them both personally at the trade station, and I was immediately suspicious of the one named Arlen. I don’t know why, but my instincts tell me something is out of place with her being in the position she claims to hold."

"That would be the one who killed four of the five assassins, sent to kill her, and the lady she was here to protect. I think you might want to question this informant of yours more closely Commander. So, let us move on.... what do you know of the three men that were killed less than a kilometre from here, at about the time assassins were freely wandering the corridors of this building?”

This was news to Cra’, he’d received no reports of any incidents from the local militia. “One was decapitated with a shigawire garrotte, an interesting choice of weapon. One has to wonder why he was not killed like the others,” Vo continued. “The other two died of a powerful neurotoxin, administered by a bladed weapon of some sort. They were carrying com units, identical to the ones found on the assassins here. It would seem you were observing their targets for them Commander.”

“As you can gather, I had not been informed of this Captain. I will have my second look into this matter as a matter of urgency, the deaths here and the town itself are clearly linked. I am confident he will be able to uncover the persons responsible, and bring them to question.”

Vo frowned as she listened to his reply, the fool intended to compound his mistakes by making yet another, no doubt, he would do as honour demands and resign his post. Did the fool not realise this served only his enemies Clearly he needed a firm hand, to guide him towards making the correct decision now. He had been played for a fool, with the contrivance of his own lord. It was his wounded pride he sought to retain here, she did not intend to allow him that luxury.


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PostPosted: Fri, 4. Mar 16, 13:33    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Cra’ shuddered as Rhonkars emissary walked past him, that she made no effort to conceal her contempt for him, for the failures he had already conceded he had made, told him clearly that if he failed to do as she demanded, he would likely find himself facing execution. The warning she had given him, made it clear his death alone might not satisfy her, that she might turn her attention to his family.

He stood there, rooted by both shame and fear for a moment, before he began to consider what needed doing, to ensure he exceeded her demands. Taking his seat; he put a call through to his second, who at that moment was in the medical facility overseeing the examination of the Assassins.

"Kye’ I want the officer of the watch arrested, and held in isolation. Do it now." Cra’ cut the link then contacted the head of security on the station that served as a port for the planet.

“What can I do for you commander?” the man asked clearly having been roused from his sleep.

Cra sent him an image of his informant. “I have reason to believe this man has conspired with others in an attack on our lord’s house. No doubt he will seek to evade justice; I want him captured alive, and held in isolation. I will interrogate him personally. His lieutenant was clearly alarmed at both the news of the attack, and the rage in his voice. The emissary was right in one thing he had allowed himself to become soft since taking command here. It was time to remind people he worked for the Intelligence service first, his lord second. He made other arrangements on his own authority, before he was informed they had taken his informant prisoner on the station. He went straight to the port commandeering a shuttle to take him there. His allotted time to redeem himself was passing by at a furious pace. There was much still to be achieved, before he allowed himself the luxury of any respite. Kye’ contacted him as his shuttle gained orbit, and moved to dock at the station asking what he should do with the watch commander. “Break him Kye’,” he ordered coldly. “The man is a traitor, he alone had the authority to order the withdrawal of the house guards… I want to know who suggested that to him. See to this personally, I have no doubt others will seek to silence him.” Kye’ gave him a savage nod of agreement, before closing the link. Cra’ knew that Kye’ had long held a dislike for the guard commander, he would not be gentle in his questioning. On that thought he reviewed the information he had demanded of the militia, regarding the three men killed in the town. He was not unduly surprised to see an image of the head of his lord’s seneschal, he should have suspected his involvement, the man had a reputation for corruption. The other two had been identified as local thugs. He sent a message to the militia commander, advising he wanted to speak to the man they worked for on his return.

**********

Sabine smiled as she headed to rendezvous with the Kaiken, she had seen Cra’ storm through the arrivals lounge his face grim with rage. By the look on his face, someone had given him a roasting for last night’s events, as well they should. Even after dealing with the intruders for him, the man had failed to improve security at his lord’s palace. It had been a simple matter to evade the guards and reach the orbital station before she moved to take care of the man, who had arranged the attack. Fortunately, Erine had the drives hot and ready when she docked her Mamba, the Kaiken was already jumping to the south gate of Mines of fortune, by the time she reached the bridge. That was where Cu’ h’trt, Tkr’s master of spies, waited on news of her, and Selma’s death. No doubt planning to arrive after the event, so as to prove he was innocent of any involvement. His location she had found amidst the items she had taken from the man who’d sought ambush her. No doubt he was supposed to rendezvous with the man to report on his success. Hopefully Cu’ would back of once she spoke to him… If not family Tkr would have to find a replacement for him. The man had been careless not notifying the guild of his intentions, if she had to kill him there would be no reprisal’s.

**********

Cu’ sipped on his wine enjoying the complex plots and strategies he wove in his head to amuse himself. It was rare he was allowed to put some of those plots, particular one aimed at Rhonkar into action, this one he had endorsed. Primarily because even should it fail, the blame would be laid at the feet of that fat sodomite Bre’ ‘k’lt. If that were to happen, he was certain his preferred candidate to replace him would be chosen. He had spent enough on bribes amongst the planetary council members to ensure that. His musings were interrupted by a priority com call on his desk display, no doubt his lord was pressing for another progress report. He had much to gain following the success of this plan, not least of which was the influx of wealth it would provide, perhaps part of that might be used to increase the pittance of a budget he was expected to work with. More importantly to family Tkr, it would grant them higher status in the Split council. He accepted the link then felt fear as he recognised the image displayed. The twin amber eyes of a predator, on a black background. What business had this she devil calling him, had his lord made some error that had earned her anger?

“Sabine” he began hoping his voice showed none of the fear he felt, “to what do I owe the honour of this call?”

“Your stupidity Cu’ ‘h’rt,” came the blunt reply. “Did you think we would be unaware of your petty intrigues in Family Zein. You are interfering in matters that do not concern you, withdraw your agents… or face the consequences.”

“Your threats do not concern me Sabine, this is a political matter. I do not require your guilds approval in this.” He was partly buffing of course but by the time she reached Zein the matter would be done and dusted, the guild would not sanction reprisals then. The sudden hammering of weapons fire on the ship told him he might be mistaken. Sabine smiled as she cut the link and launched her Keris, this would be a learning experience for the crew of the dragon, one they would not live to pass on. She powered up her drives her target the underside of the Dragon, where it was most vulnerable to attack. Her Keris had already invited the Captains pursuit, leading him away from the gate. She had already scanned the ship, and found it lacked a jump drive. Cu’ would never live to regret that cost saving mistake, she made multiple passes at the ship inflicting increasing damage to its shields with each pass. The Dragon turned away, trying to use its speed, to get far enough away to turn and bring its mains or turret to bear. Sabine could feel rage’s presence in her mind, as she started tearing into the hull of the Dragon. Rage liked to watch the kill. Finally, before she could deliver the coup de grace, Co’ called her his face smeared with blood where something had struck him, it was likely the ships internal structure was falling to pieces by now. The Keris would prevent his shields from recharging, whilst she listened to him beg for his life.

**********

“Sabine stop, please, I’ll pull my people, out I swear…”

“I’ve heard such promises before Cu’," Sabine interrupted "in this case I might let you live… If you transmit the details of those involved, you have five sezura to comply.” That would ensure he had no time to try and falsify the information.

“How do I know once I give you what you ask, you won’t kill me anyway?”

“I give you my word, I won’t kill you Cu’. Act swiftly though... you are taxing my patience.” That was enough for him, Sabine’s word was as legendary as her ruthlessness. Cu’ transmitted his own files directly to her ship.

“Very good Cu’ now if you will excuse me, much as I would like to stay and reminisce, I have business elsewhere.” Sabine watched the relief flood through Cu’s face before she cut the link and headed back to the Kaiken ordering her Keris to be recovered there.

I wanted to see him die, rage spat.

"You will Sabine promised. Erine... destroy that Dragon for me I want nothing left of it.” Cu’ likely never survived the first Wraith that blew a gaping hole in the side of the Dragon. The second, which blew the ships reactors was probably overkill. She had kept her word though, she hadn’t killed him. Merely ordered his death, Cu’ should have listened to what she’d promised more carefully. Idiot!

**********

Unfortunately, the destruction of Cu’s Dragon, had taken longer than she'd planned. She wouldn’t have time to transit the space station and get back to the Palace before people were up and about, and by people she meant Cra and that girl Cael, he was using to keep tabs on her. She called Erine from her ship as she docked, and told her what needed doing.

“Hey are you sure Sabine, I mean Selma’s taught me how but I haven’t done this for real you know?”

“I have every faith in you Erine, now get moving full speed back to Zein. I’m on a schedule, and we are wasting valuable time.”

**********

Cra’ stepped into the cell and saw terror in Selke’s eyes. It was clear the guards had not been gentle in arresting him, one eye was almost closed and his face and chest, what he saw of it through his torn, and blood stained clothing, was blackened with bruises. “Now Selke,” he said leaning over the table, to look the man in the eye. “We will talk….” Selke talked, he had no option if he wanted time to board his ship and leave here, before those he betrayed found him. It was not as much information as Cra’ had hoped for but from those Selke had named, he would discover who else was involved. He was walking back through the security unit’s corridors towards his ship when he heard angry curses from the operations room. “What’s going on?” he asked, as he stepped into the room turning his eyes to the large monitor, everyone was looking at.

“That stupid Argon Captain, approached at too high a speed she’s overshot, and is going to hit the atmosphere.” The Argon ship? He recognised the Hyperion as it disappeared from sight. This was no accident… Did they intend to attack he asked himself as he ran to his shuttle. They were barely clear from the station when he was told the ship had regained orbit. There were no reports from the surface of anything having been launched, but he was certain this was Arlens doing. Vo might disagree with him on this, he was still certain that it was she who actually led the Argon delegation here.

***********

Sabine waited till she was at two thousand meters, before she deployed the wings built into her drop suit. The re-entry pod she’d already abandoned in the upper atmosphere would disintegrate before it reached the ground. Only when the suits wings were locked, did she begin manoeuvring, aiming to land in the palace grounds themselves. She calculated she had thirty mizura at most, before Cra’ found himself at her door on some pretext or other. She intended to be there to open it for him. Cursing as she dropped through the ventilation conduit in the bathroom, she heard the door alert chime. She had failed to anticipate Cra’ might send someone else to check on her whereabouts. The man was so mistrustful of her, it was wounding she smiled to at her thoughts. Sabine opened the door a crack whist hitting the shower controls stripping of her drop suit, as she called out for Selma to answer the door. Sabine kicked the suit out of sight, before stepping under the shower. She heard the low murmur of voices from the other room Selma’s, and the other she thought might be Kye, Cra’s second. She heard Selma approach before she stuck her head into the room, her eyes drawn first to the open vent then to the drop suit on the floor.

“Sorry Arlen, Cra’ s second insists on speaking with you.” Arlen stepped out of the shower muttering loudly about inconsiderate hosts, as she slid the vent grille back into place and donned a bathrobe. Once her modesty assured, she opened the door fully leaving Selma behind to deal with her clothing before striding angrily into the main room to confront Kye.

“What is so urgent you have to interrupt my taking a bath?" She demanded as she finished tying a knot in the belt at her waist.

**********

“My Apologies Arlen, I was sent to escort you to the Commanders office he has some questions regarding your vessel. Captain Hayak is also asked to accompany me.” That did not surprise her, no doubt the stunt Erine had pulled had violated about a hundred of so local laws on unauthorised flightpath’s. The use of Selma’s post as Captain of the Kaiken indicated this was the excuse he would use for demanding this meeting at this ungodly hour.

“Alright give me a minute to get dressed, I think he could have just given us a call though.” she muttered over her shoulder, as she stomped to the bedroom, Selma preceding her with a bundle of towels in her arms.

“Why do you think Cra’ really wants to see you?” Selma whispered as she began towelling Arlens hair.

“He probably figures Erine pulled that stunt to distract him whilst I slipped back in, that means either someone saw me… Which I very much doubt, or he’s just suspicious of me which is more likely. I could run rings round these amateurs, all day long, you know that.” Selma fetched a suit for Arlen from the closet as she sat down at the dresser, applying a minimum of makeup as if she was rushing for Kye’s benefit. She slipped the data stick Liom had edited into her slim data pad.

“What do you think of this one?" Selma asked distracting her, as she absently palmed shut the lid on her data pad ignoring the thin plas sheet that would stop it closing fully.

"It will have to do; besides I’m going to practice before breakfast remember?” Selma then got dressed herself, they left their rooms a moment later the guards remaining at the door, as Kye led them to the security office one level down.

“Elevator not working?” Selma queried as Kye led them down a flight of stairs. Some distance from the lifts.

“Maintenance” he replied.

**********

Cael moved swiftly entering the room, sezura after the argon women were out of sight. Unlike Cra, Vo had no qualms about placing a camera in their bathroom, that was how she had seen Arlen re-entering the rooms earlier. That Vo herself had ordered her to do this and not inform her commander troubled her. Yet surely he would understand, she acted save him from Vo's wrath. Disturbing nothing, Cael eased open the bedroom closet recognising the bundle of towels stuffed down behind their cases. No doubt they concealed the suit she had taken of on her return. What else had the woman done? She had made some very disparaging remarks about the security here. It would be best if Cra’ did not hear of them she decided, he was in a bad enough mood as it was. Arlen had gone to the dresser to attend to her cosmetics, whilst Cael knew such face painting was considered part of the Argon courting ritual, she found it slightly disturbing herself. Cael sat down in front of the dresser swiftly examining the various containers, in case they contained more than cosmetics. It was as she was doing this, she caught sight of a faint glint of light reflected in the mirror. Selma’s computer pad was still switched on, she realised as she carefully lifted the cover. A thin plas film disc, possibly from one of her cosmetics had fallen onto the pads contact strip, that was why it had not shut down. The file that was open on the display was paired with one Selma was obviously comparing it to. Cael inserted one of her own data sticks and copied both files in their entirety to it. Whilst she was conversant with the Argon language, making sense of this would take far more time than she was likely to have. Cael removed the data stick, then put everything back exactly as she had found it, before leaving the room.

**********

The data was boring Vo admitted to herself as she read yet another page detailing freighter capacities, fuel and crew costings, even revised maintenance schedules were included in the detailed appendixes. Well organised and detailed, yet boring none the less. It was only as she finished going through the files that she noticed the cartouche of the family Tkr attached to one of the files that she understood why Hayak was studying them. Using her security clearance Vo pulled up information from the merchant’s guild. It soon became clear why the argon delegation had been targeted. Despite Rhonkars wish for this contract to be filled in short order. Lord Bre’ ‘k’lt was intent on stalling them, the amount he had offered for them for the ores they wished to purchase was pitiful and would force the argons to trade at a loss once the actual transportation costs were factored in. Vo might have considered this merely a bargaining ploy on Bre’ ‘k’lt’s part to ensure a better deal for Rhonkar were it not for Tkr’s involvement. It took less than a half a mizura before she understood why they were acting against Rhonkar’s wishes, and more importantly why the Argon delegation had been attacked. Vo made her report, and within a few mizura was granted the authority to proceed as she saw fit. Despite her distaste for such matters Vo saw this as a necessary action to ensure the will of Lord Rhonkar was made clear to those who sought to frustrate his wishes. Ten mizura later she was sat facing the true leader of the Argon delegation. The woman was at first confused why she a Captain of Lord Rhonkar was addressing these mundane matters of trade rather than leaving it to Bre’ ‘k’lt. The man who had been tasked with this. She was however delighted at the agreement she proposed and had the power to authorise. That left her two tasks to complete here till she could resume her service for Rhonkar in a role she was better suited, and comfortable with.

**********

Selma was pissed, a fact she’d made quite clear already as her voice reached new heights in volume. “You are telling me you dragged us all the way down here to issue me a fracking speeding ticket? Gunne give me strength! Cra’ sat back impressed by her rage, if not by her less than courteous language. Arlen he noted, was having difficulty hiding her amusement at his predicament. Clearly she had seen, or been the victim of such outbursts before.

“Our laws are quite clear Captain Hayak,” He stated interrupting her tirade. “Your vessel was traveling at 318 mps on its approach to the station, a speed that exceeded the mandated speed by over three times the stated limits. As the ship’s Captain of record, you are liable for the penalty that infringement incurred. The station master thought if I handled the matter personally, it could be handled discreetly. So as to avoid causing you any undue embarrassment, in requiring you to return to the station to pay this fine in person.” Arlen stepped forward pressing her thumb to the pad, authorising payment of the fine.

“That’s going on Rabeka’s bill, Selma.,” Arlen warned. “Now calm down and let’s go back to our rooms, we can chew Erine out for this later. Besides I have a practice bout, and I’d prefer not to be late.” That Arlen gave Selma a target, this Erine, who he assumed was in command of her ship in her absence, other than himself for her anger, Cra’ was grateful. He was annoyed however that one of his staff had arranged to spar with her, without notifying him of this. Was this man the source of her source of information here? Why else would she have arranged this save to seek information from his command? He would observe this practice bout himself Vo would have to wait a little longer for his report.

**********

Kye watched the pair leave Selma being led reluctantly away by the firm grip Arlen was keeping on her wrist, ignoring Selma’s continuing her protests at having been fined, her indignation at which she was emphasising with repeated accusations she made with her fingers in Cra’ s direction. “You expressed an interest in that one…? I would rather have a Kelathian hound in my bed than her, you are braver than I give you credit for. Cra’ took a sip of his tea needing the stimulants it provided to ward of the effects his lack of sleep was already having.

“It was an act, nothing more Kye, she uses her apparent rage at being fined for her ships violation of regulations, to distract us from what I believe has occurred.”

“Which is?"

“I suspect their ship intentionally botched its approach to the station, its excessive speed was no doubt to be attributed to a drive malfunction, solely in order to enter the atmosphere long enough to send a tight beamed transmission to the Argon delegation quartered in the town. Check with the surveillance team and see what the delegation were doing at the time. Hopefully they may have detected the transmission.” Kye thought about that for the moment following Cra’s reasoning. Such a transmission would certainly have been almost undetectable and impossible to intercept; they might have evidence of such a signal, if it had been aimed at them though.

“Let us assume you are right Cra’, how will this theory help resolve your current dilemma regarding Captain Vo ‘l’ nt?”

“To be honest Kye, I am uncertain that it will…, for the moment I must counter the threat to the Argons, I want you to assign an additional squad, to ensure their safety. They have been attacked once, I would rather be prepared for a second attempt.” Kye arched one eyebrow at that, till now Cra’ had been certain the Argons were the ones who posed a threat. Now it seemed whatever information he had acquired from the man detained on the station, gave him cause to re-evaluate the situation. Kye left with his orders, wandering if his Commander had judged the situation correctly. Captain Vo ‘l’ nt he suspected, would not tolerate any further failures here.


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PostPosted: Tue, 8. Mar 16, 03:03    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:


Cra spent some time preparing his report for Vo before he made his way to the training courts where Arlen had arrived a few mizura previously. His sword master was here, watching Arlen as she began her warm up routine using a blade similar to her ‘Katana’.

“Much is now clear” his tutor observed as Cra’ entered the observation gallery. “When the Argon female asked for one of my best to practice with, I was puzzled, now it is clear she anticipated your presence.” Cra considered that statement for a moment, Hu’ ‘t’ou was a skilled blade master, and whilst his own skills were not lacking, some of his students far exceeded his own.

This then was to be Arlens means of proving her abilities far surpassed his, without offending her host. He held his temper in check as Tre’, one of his instructors’ abler students joined Arlen in the court after she signalled she was ready for the bout. It seemed Arlen had loaned him a larger version of the blade she herself intended to use. His easy handling of it, suggested she had given him time to become accustomed to its weight. In truth the weapon seemed similar to one a Split might choose to use in a dual. To Cra’s mind it soon became apparent Arlen had been foolish to give Tre’ such an advantage over her, as they exchanged the first of many passes’ the noise of their blades clashing drawing attention from others in the training courts.

“I have seen enough” Hu’ declared after a few mizura. “She will best Tre’ easily now.” Cra’ found that hard to believe, Tre’ seemed confident of victory, a few more touches and Arlen would be forced to concede defeat. As if hearing Hu’s words, Arlen went on the offensive moving much faster than she had till then, her katana was a mere blur in the air, as strike after strike landed on Tre’. That she landed her own hits so easily, whilst avoiding his own attempts, was clearly intended to provoke him. It soon became clear Hu’ was right in his assessment of her skill. He followed Hu’ to his office where he asked what had convinced him Arlen would win the bout.

Hu’ played back a recording of the match Cra’ had just witnessed adding a commentary to it as it progressed to its conclusion. “See here Cra’ the woman has been judging Tre’ till this point, assessing his skill and weaknesses. This had two goals… the first was to determine his skill as I have said, the second was to render him overconfident in his ability. Once she had achieved this she toyed with him till his temper overcame him, then she finished him easily. You have said, you invited a challenge from her when you first met Cra’. Consider yourself fortunate she declined to accept the offer, she would have killed you easily.” Cra’s pride bristled at that, unlike Tre’ he rarely allowed his temper to control him. Hu’ saw that and laughed at his unspoken certainty in his ability.

“You think me wrong Cra’? I tell you plainly then, this woman has the skill of a Master of the blade, she is a veteran of combat. See how she carries herself Cra’? She is aware of all that occurs around her, she is thinking of all possible threats, not those restricted to Tre’ alone. She is ready to face attack from any quarter, that tells me much. I suspect she was once, or still is, a seasoned combat marine, either in the military or in the service of her employer. The signs of this are unmistakable.” Cra’ had no choice but to accept his instructor’s assessment as to her ability and skills, he was not however comfortable that she had chosen to demonstrate such to him. Once again he was certain she did this purely to irritate him, the only question he had to, ask himself was why?

**********

Sabine slipped away from the hotel on the pretext of going shopping whilst Helga, Tighe and Selma discussed the contract that Helga had agreed to. The flitter and the package she had paid for were waiting in the storage unit as arranged. Despite her doubt that the man would attempt to betray her Sabine scanned the vehicle and suit thoroughly. She would have to ask Cle’ ‘c’ h, how he had managed to acquire a family Njy combat rig along with the appropriate weaponry. If the man could procure such items so readily, she would be using his services again. She changed into the rig making the necessary adjustments to the internal harness’s and fittings. It wasn’t as comfortable as her own custom built rig but it would serve its purpose. After that it was a simple matter to program the flitter to land just outside the boundaries of the man’s summer residence. It was a simple matter then to evade the surveillance devices that covered the approaches to the walls even moving at the speed her rig allowed. Once at the house she climbed the wall at a spot furthest from the single road that led to it, surveying the grounds carefully before slipping over the top. According to her information, the guards were quartered in a building near the rear entrance. Most would be there now, either studying the surveillance system monitors, or having their midday meal. The rest she would deal with, as and when she found them. It appeared that whilst Bre ‘k’lt had more elaborate security measures here than at his formal residence, his guards’ security procedures were just as sloppy. It took only a few moments to overpower the single guard at the ground level access, then to release the toxic gas into the building. Once the canister was empty she entered control room, activating various systems that would lock down the house. The only people who could leave now, were those she allowed to live.


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PostPosted: Tue, 8. Mar 16, 03:37    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:


Sabine’s first task, was to ensure the one she was supposed to retrieve was still here. He would no doubt be in a cell in the basement. That could be more readily accessed from the kitchens. Sabine entered the house, stunning everyone she encountered as she crossed to the armoured door at the far side of the kitchen. A quick headcount confirmed she had taken care of all the house staff. That just left the guards on the upper levels to dispose of.

Beyond the door there was a flight of stairs to be negotiated that led to a short corridor with doors on either side. A glance into one of them revealed they were much like a ships cabin though without anything more than a bed and a fresher unit. The cell she wanted according to the information she’d taken from the control centre was the last on the right. These doors were locked using a manual rather than an electronic key. It took only a few sezura to apply a thermic cord around the cocking plate, and burn through the lock. The young split stood at the back of the cell, his eye’s searching for a way past her.

“You are to remain here for the moment I will return shortly and take you back to your family.” He didn’t believe her of course but he wanted to, there was no mistaking the brief flare of hope he felt at her words.

“Who are you?” he finally managed, once he recognised the fact that she had not attacked him, and there was no way to get past her.

“Your family are paying me to take you home, before I do, I have to punish those who took you, here.” Sabine said, reaching into a pouch on her weapons belt to show him the proof his family had provided to show he should trust her. The boy stepped forward and slipped the simple chain over his neck.

“My friends they were here a short while ago, the guards took them, I cannot leave without them.”

“That is nothing to me boy, you are the one I was sent to retrieve, your friends are likely already dead by now.” That hurt him, he obviously knew where he was, and the likely fate of his friends, it was equally obvious he would attempt something rash if she did not promise to at least try and rescue them. “Alright if I find them alive I will bring them back with me, if you do not wait here, I will kill them. Is that understood?” The boy nodded his agreement and sat down on the cot to signify he would do as she asked.

"I will be back shortly, make sure you are here when I return.” Sabine left and made her way to the first floor, using the stairways reserved for the use of servants.

**********

She met the first pair of guards as she stepped pout into the corridor that led to the grand staircase. Their attention was fixed downwards looking to the ground floor, drawing her long sword she ran at them closing the gap between them before they could turn to face her. The one to her right she ran through the chest with her sword the other ones throat she cut open to the spine with the Jatra she held in her left hand. He fell to the floor clutching at his throat in a vain attempt to stem the flow of blood from his wound the other she pushed of her blade with one foot before slicing his throat with the tip of the blade. He was dead before he fell to the floor. Hopefully the other guards would be of better calibre than these. Keeping both weapons in hand she made her way to what was described on the schematics as the great hall.

Sabine made no attempt to conceal herself as she stepped into the centre of the hallway walking implacably towards the huge wooden doors the men guarded. On seeing her they drew their weapons and began firing, realising to late that they were useless against the combat suits shields. Sabine picked up the pace, her sword flashing in wide arcs to left and right as she cut through them. One perhaps wiser than the rest tried to open the door to escape the slaughter. Realising it was locked he reached over his shoulder drawing his own sword. “Idiot" Sabine laughed, drawing her phase pistol and blowing his head off. With the guards dealt with she sheathed her sword and slipped the sling of her repeater rifle over her shoulder before overriding the doors locks, and stepping into the room beyond. Those in the room ran away from her seeking a place to hide, one even tried to jump through a now shielded window that merely stunned him.

'Pathetic' Rage whispered, her delight at the carnage she anticipated keenly evident in her voice.

Sabine laughed out loud as she pressed the trigger on the repeater, swinging the weapon in a slow arc that tore everything in the room to shreds. The repeaters shells blowing chunks out of stone masonry and frail Split bodies alike with ease. Sabine shouldered the repeater, only when she was sure none survived. Before leaving the room she tossed in two incendiary grenades pulling the doors closed before the grenades detonated.

**********

The remaining guards would now be waiting for her, they could not have failed to recognise the weapons fire. Slipping in a fresh charge and ammo pack Sabine walked slowly up the stairs, her HUD display showed her the positions of the four men waiting to greet her. One at the far end closest to Bre’ ‘k’lt’s chambers had a launcher. She threw two grenades his way before cresting the stairs, following the targets her display indicated with volleys of fire. She used the repeater one last time to blow away the door to his rooms, before letting it drop to the floor. Sabine ran across the room hearing the almost hysterical voices from one of the bedrooms. It was possible Bre’ had an emergency exit in there, using her suits servo assist she charged through the door casting it aside as she looked about to find her targets. Both the children were bound the girl on the bed had clearly been intended for Te’ who was still struggling to pull on his pants him she shot in the face with her pistol on stun before turning her attention to Bre’ himself. He was trying to pull a door open that had been hidden behind the cabinet that now stood at an angle away from the wall. She shot him twice in the legs, not wanting him to lose consciousness. Originally she had intended to just kill him, and leave. Seeing the girl bound on the bed triggered a rage she’d held back too long. Sabine drew her Jatra, cutting the girls bonds before turning to the boy. He was bound to a steel frame; his back an open sore from wounds, wounds no doubt inflicted by the razor whip that lay on the floor near him. His ribs were exposed in several places, and he had lost quite a bit of blood. He would die from his injuries unless she helped him. Normally that would not bother her unduly, the intent of Te’ to rape the girl, suggested a different course of action. She released the boy and placed him face down on the bed, treating his wounds as best she could, with the med kit strapped to her thigh. He would live she decided as she finished dressing the worst of his wounds with synth skin before turning her attention back to the girl.

The girl should be the one to punish them, it is her right. Rage snarled, as eager to see this as she was herself.

“Oh she will Sabine” agreed, seeing the hatred in the girl’s eye’s, the insatiable need to kill. A need that nearly matched her own desire, in its intensity.

She picked Bre' up and tied him to the frame not unduly surprised when it groaned, sagging under the strain of supporting the fat slug. Sabine picked up the razor whip before handing it to the girl.

"If you use it lightly he will suffer longer, and die agonisingly slowly" Sabine advised, as she activated the whip. The girl smiled as she turned her attention to Bre'. Sabine drew her knife to deal with his nephew.


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Annette Barret





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PostPosted: Wed, 23. Mar 16, 11:59    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:

Cra waited anxiously as Vo studied the report he’d finally delivered regarding recent events. She glanced up at him occasionally as she read making no comment as she finally threw the data pad onto his desk top. He strained not to let his fear show as she stood indicating he should follow her as she led him out of his office, her escort taking position behind him as she led them out of the building, to the courtyard beyond where a military shuttle awaited them. As he took his seat Cra’ was shocked to see Cael sitting restrained and gagged, in a seat further down the cabin. Vo herself had already stepped into the cockpit of the craft so he was left to wonder what the on earth Cael was doing here, she had claimed a sudden family emergency to leave the house last night.

A chill crept down his spine, did Vo think she might somehow be involved in the recent attacks. If so his report was hopelessly flawed, his failure even more complete than he had feared. The shuttle took off, accelerating at a speed that pressed him back into his seat despite the inertial dampers. Vo returned to the passenger compartment a mizura later obviously preoccupied with the conversation she was having with someone on her com set, from the sound of it she was giving instructions to several of her people, as well as a carrier’s Captain in high orbit, that he assumed because she ordered him to launch a squadron of interceptors to converge on the planet itself. Clearly she suspected that whoever they were tracking would attempt to flee the surface in a spacecraft of some sort. The shuttle jolted as it docked heavily with a carrier, presumably the one she was in contact with. Cra’ felt a violent jolt as the shuttles speed was matched with the carrier as soon as it docked.

“You… Come with" me she snapped at Cra, turning towards the shuttles airlock. There were armed marines waiting to meet them as they passed through the airlock. Vo was practically running through the corridors, crewmen pressing themselves flat against the walls of the corridors as she approached. She entered an elevator, pausing only long enough to allow Cra’ time to enter it before closing the doors, Cra took several deep breaths as he listened to the one sided conversations Vo was engaged in, trying to gain some insight into what was happening.

“.ind out the exact time it took off, and its last known position, I want that transport found and targeted commander, use the local militia interceptors…. Yes, you have my authority to arrest or shoot anyone who attempts to obstruct you, is that understood…?” There was a moments delay before she spoke again, no doubt whilst the commander confirmed her orders. "On my authority" she snapped to someone else as the elevator rapidly decelerated.

The elevator came to an abrupt halt, as soon as the doors opened, Vo led him to a tactical command centre. Every console was active and manned with technicians speaking rapidly into their com sets as they monitored a number of ongoing operations. Vo took her seat at the command desk that overlooked the entire room, her eyes following the operations progress on large displays that showed real time feeds from various positions, both on the surface, and in near orbit. Each display had a side panel listing individual units assigned to the areas they were focussed on.

**********

“Command I have the transport on long range radar, we are moving to intercept” came another voice over the rooms speakers, the transmission distorted by the sound of powerful jet engines. Vo changed the display on the main screen presumably, to that coming from the commander of the interceptor who had just spoken. Cra watched as the transport quickly came into view, it was a planetary transport, there was no way that thing could escape.

“Fire a few warning shots commander, I want that transport to land... Use whatever force necessary to make that happen.”

“Understood Captain, I am engaging the target.” Cra watched as the pilot cut across the flight path of the transport, its streams of gun fire narrowly missing the cockpit. “Captain there’s something odd here” came the voice of the pilot again as he finished his strafing run, whilst turning about to make another pass, the transport swiftly coming into view of its cameras once again. The automated warning to land immediately, clearly audible in the background of his own transmission.

Cra’ watched as the transport suddenly exploded, assuming it must have been hit, despite Vo’s orders. A large piece of debris hit the interceptor then, the transmission suddenly cutting of, before being resumed from another aircraft.

“Captain our flight leader is down; I repeat our flight leader is down, I am in pursuit of the enemy, the transport was camouflaged" he continued, "it was concealing a cargo handling platform that was carrying a spacecraft, possibly of Teladi design, which launched when it dropped its decoy paneling. I will attempt to prevent it reaching orbit, transmitting my flight data to you now.”

Vo turned to one of the technicians below ordering a display of the space craft’s course to be mapped, and the data fed to the weapons control officer, adding she wanted the ship captured if possible, but advising it must not be allowed to escape. As she did that, other flight controllers began giving intercept instructions to the fighters already approaching the planet. The closest unit was a Jaguar wing which, whilst not heavily armed had more than sufficient speed to catch the fugitive.

“Captain, I am going to have to break contact with the target, I have exceeded the altitude limit of my aircraft, do you want me to launch missiles whilst I still have the target in range?” Vo paused considering that option for a moment before responding.

"Negative sub commander, you have done more than enough already. We will take it from here, return to base.” The main display changed again as the planetary interceptor broke of its pursuit, Cra' estimated the man's fighter had almost left the planets atmosphere judging by the clearly visible star field as he broke off. He would be fortunate if he was able to make it back to his base, he must have used nearly all his fuel to make it as far as he had.

“Make sure that man and his unit receive a commendation” Vo ordered before turning her eye's back to the main tactical display.

The fugitives ship was clearly marked now, as were their own which were even now converging on it. There was no way the fugitive could escape Cra’ thought, as it turned away from the nearest group of interceptors, it was now heading almost directly towards them.

“Captain" Vo spoke loudly enough into her com for him to overhear her; "I believe the fugitive will attempt to make her escape using a jump drive... Be prepared to follow her, we will have to leave your detached units here if she does.” Vo turned to face him offering a rare smile on seeing his confusion.

“Don’t worry commander... Once I have this Cratal collared, I will explain what has been going on for you,” she assured him in tones that suggested he would not enjoy the experience.

“I am detecting a jump field forming around the target” warned one of the technicians as the Kestrel came into range of their own ships targeting systems.

“Track it Vo” ordered. "Weapons... engage the target at will."

“All hands prepare for jump" came the announcement over the ships speakers, as the ship shuddered from the recoil of its turrets opening fire on the fast approaching fighter, and a spread of missiles it had launched. Cra’ could only watch, as the Kestrel vanished from their screens a few sezura before their own ship jumped after it.


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Sabrina Bergin





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PostPosted: Fri, 22. Apr 16, 18:46    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Seizewell:

Vo watched as the Kestrel vanished from her displays, not letting her anger at its escape show to the crew in the room. This would be the time to head for the bridge, where she would have a better vantage point for the coming engagement. She took the opportunity to head for there as the drives powered up for their own imminent jump. Cra’, she was pleased to note was still following her as ordered. At least she wouldn’t have to waste time looking for him when this was over. “Ho Captain” called out Sa’ ‘t’ng as she entered the bridge offering her his command seat as she strode forward to clasp his wrist. Unlike most Split Captains, Sa actually used his brains rather than just charging into battle recklessly, his self-control was admirable.

“Thank you, Sa’” Vo acknowledged declining his offer, taking the seat next to his instead. Though pleased at the honour implicit in his gesture, this was his ship, his crew, he knew how best to command both in battle. “Have we a destination for the jump yet?” She asked activating the side displays that mirrored his own.

“Seizewell as you predicted Vo, we are going to drop in right behind that Kestrel when we arrive. We are tracking it even now, all weapons are live and my remaining fighters ready to launch.” Vo smiled, seeing the savage grin on his face at the thought of wreaking havoc in one of the Teladi’s most prized sectors.

“No doubt the Cratal I am pursuing will have a military transport, or possibly a light carrier waiting for it. I want that ship targeted Sa’, advise any Teladi forces to keep clear of our prey.” Sa’ grinned evilly as he took the seat next to her as their Raptor dropped into the Seizewell, the displays updating themselves as live sector data was received. “I have the target” called the tactical officer over their com link’s, “its heading for a Shrike positioned near the equipment dock. It is not a Teladi vessel. Captains it’s flagged as non-hostile.” Of course it would be, the bitch would have anticipated her pursuit.

“Override the IFF settings Sa ordered, tell the Teladi that Shrike is offering aide to a fugitive, if their ships interfere in any way, they will also be considered hostile.” Sa ignored the raised eyebrow she gave him at that order, his lips curling into a savage grin. It was clear he hoped the Teladi would attempt to interfere.

“This might be more fun than squashing Boron Sa, be careful though, our lord will not be pleased if we declare war on the Teladi without his consent?”

“Probably not,” Sa conceded still grinning at the thought of it. “If they do fire on us though, honour would demand we respond.”

“Have your weapons officer try to disable any Teladi ships that try to interfere, rather than destroying them Sa.” Vo cautioned him, doubting the Teladi would interfere, threatening a Split Raptor in a combat situation was not a good idea at the best of times. In all likelihood they would be to content to invoice Rhonkar for any damages and leave it at that.

***********

Vo looked down at her displays as they began getting technical data on the shrike, cursing to herself as she saw the Shrike’s main weapons out matched their own, where the hell had the bitch found that many IBL launchers, their own attack would have to be carried out at range using fighters then broadsides as well as the mains when they closed, Sa’s remaining fighter squadrons could offer close in support at that point. A wing of Tenjins launched from the Shrike heading directly towards them. They were carrying Hammer heads, if they managed to get enough of those through the Raptors defences, they would take a beating. Sa recognising the danger ordering his wing of fighters to intercept the Tenjins. Vo watched as the Kestrel disappeared from their tactical display, no doubt having docked with the Shrikes, a mizura later the it began heading away from the equipment dock at an ever increasing rate of speed.

“It appears the Captain of the Shrike does not wish to come to battle Vo.” Sa commentated disappointed at the coward.

“She has the option of surrender of course” Vo agreed studying the tactical display’s, she was confident that Sa’ was quite wrong about the woman she was pursuing. The last thing Sabine would want to do, would be to avoid battle. All the information she had gathered on the woman suggested she revelled in it. Using her side console, Vo launched a series of drones to deploy satellite’s along the Shrikes projected course. It would take a couple of Mizura for any useful information to be received from them, in the meantime the distance between their two ships was slowly reducing. Her com display lit up as a message was transmitted from the Shrike.

“Captain… I would advise you to withdraw, I don’t really want to have to kill Rhonkars favourite pet. If you stand down now I am prepared to overlook your insult in pursuing me this once, attack me or any of my people however, and I will destroy you.” Came the message over all com channels, this was insane the woman was goading them to attack her. Her words were a challenge that even she was having difficulty ignoring. Sa looked to Vo his face contorted with rage as he engaged the turbo boost sounding the battle alert as their ship leapt forward. He was reacting as any Split warrior would to both the threat, and the insult. The Shrike was a good anti fighter platform, but with limited anti capital weaponry in its turrets, it had to rely on its mains to pose any sort of threat to them. That and its limited weapons reactors meant they could not expect to survive an engagement here, a fact Sabine would know all too well. So why this? it didn’t make any sense unless…


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PostPosted: Sat, 23. Apr 16, 09:47    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Continued:

There, at the very edge of their sensor range was the ship she had only just suspected lay in wait for them. Between them the display was filled with the first barrage of missiles that had been launched. Sa saw the same as she did cutting out the boost drive to gain precious sezura he launched all his remaining fighters. She said nothing only watching as the bulk of Sa’s fighters targeted the Cobra that had just attacked them. The remainder threw themselves at the Shrike launching their own missiles as soon as they were in range. Vo watched as the missiles drew ever closer, cursing her own folly in not anticipating this attack. “They might try to board us Sa” she warned.

“They may try… They will fail, my men will kill any who are so bold as to step foot on my ship without my leave.” Sa assured her. A second later the heavy blast doors to the bridge slammed shut, no doubt this was happening on all decks in anticipation of what was to come. Sezura later the ship began launching its own anti-missile measures, if they survived the first barrage they would be in range of the Shrike.

**********

Vo calmly fastened the battle harness around herself as she watched the missiles draw ever nearer. The turrets opened fire a moment later, a sure sign they were close now. A moment later the ship seemed to shudder as the first of the Hammers struck home. Despite the multiple shocks from explosions that were weakening the shields, Sa’s crew held to their tasks. “Fire” Sa ordered as the first of the hammers began impacting directly on their hull. Vo saw enough to see the Shrike falter, its Hull damaged as their own IBL’s tore through its shields. A sezura later it vanished either through a reactor breach or because it had jumped to safety. Vo had no time to consider which it had been, a huge explosion nearby struck heavily a beam fell from the ceiling falling straight towards her. There was no time to move her seat harness prevented that. A moment later she felt nothing as pain and darkness enveloped her.

“You are alive then Vo, for that I am grateful I would not wish to be the one to tell Lord Rhonkar otherwise,” Sa said gently from somewhere near her.

“The Shrike” she demanded forcing herself to ignore the pain, as a medic tended her wounds.

“The cowards jumped out, but we hurt them Vo, the Cobra followed after it. But for that I would have pursued them. I have recovered my fighters Captain what are your orders?”

Vo knew what he wanted her to say, that he wanted him to follow that Shrike and finish what had been started here but she could not. “Zein” she said finally, feeling her own distaste for that decision. Her blood screamed for vengeance for the attack yet she could not allow her own need for retribution to overrule her duty. “What damage did you suffer?” She asked as the medic set her wrist in a cast.

“It looks worse than it is” Sa admitted finally, his shoulders dropping in disappointment at her choice of destination as he turned to leave the medical bay.

“Sa I promise you, when this hunt resumes, you will be at my side.” Her words had the intended effect, his shoulders straightened, he flashed her a rare smile before stepping through the hatch.


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